Friday, February 28, 2014


"A dream in which familiar
Faces turn out to belong
To strangers," places waver
Like old-fashioned topo maps
Caught in the wind and the rain,
Fluttering, suddenly gone,
Abandoning the lost soul

Contemplating terrible
Mistakes he may not have made
But has no way of knowing
To be choices, good or bad,
Now that the map has vanished--
That's all the world words leave us,
Hopelessly mysterious.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is Dark And Deeper than Any

All my best, bad philosophy derives
From the bird in the kid's book who opines

"Why make little problems into big ones?"
While my worst, good behaviors come from dumb

Lips of divinity and Dr Seuss,
Rhyming their incantations to my muse

(Oi! Chanteuse!) so that she can ignore me
To twist my every badly healed phoneme

Into another spiral fractured verse,
As if, beyond slant rhymes, there could be worse.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nature at Sunset in Zion

Nothing much. Dead. Or the source
Of death, as you wish. Object
Of scrutiny, scrutinize
Thyself. The world will not end
Because the world ends. Humans
Will not cease to be humans
Because humans command them.

On the contrary. We mean
Nothing, except insofar
As we invented meaning.
The rocks slip out of the light.
They have so much to explain
And no one to explain them
Except us, meaning's morons.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cape Reinga Semi-Redivivus

Sometimes you head home,
Sometimes into the unknown,
Usually both

At once and never at the same time.
Nothing so misleading as mighty
Simple instructions like these damned ones of mine.

Who practices sorcery anymore?
Who jumps off the point farthest north
Or west, whichever, to reach their fated shore?

Dolphins these days are just hugger-mugger
Rapists with fixed, fish-eating grins that chatter,
Fix their sponges on their noses and scatter

In front of those few ships still small enough
To stay, biomechanically, in front of.
None of them are elegant or tough

From ferrying the young in
One another's arms to Byzantium.
I am actually ancient, unlike him,

The poet, whichever one it was
I wrote prose for when I was
Still desperate to know what I was.

What is the dead point? The point
Itself is the point,
Because it, however silly, points

Out past shattered souls
To where the foaming shoals
Rake rhymes over cold, cold coals.

Monday, February 24, 2014


Suddenly, strangers arrive
And look down at him. They seem
To expect him to be vague,
But he is not vague. He is
Intense, his gaze rotating
From one face to another.
He would like to embrace them.

They try to ask him questions.
He's loving, all smiles, but mute
Because he can't remember
Anything he wants to say,
Anything to make them stay.
One stray paraphrase returns
Once the visitors leave him

Staring out the sun window.
"The innkeeper did away
With their astonishment when
He told them that this man was
Don Quixote and there was
No need to pay attention
To him, gone out of his mind."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Her Name Is Is

"Literature is, almost by definition, an absurdity." -Sarah Ruden, translator

The final bemusement of the fool
Is to believe himself back transformed
Into the soul he thinks he once was.

Some enchanted evening, I will be
Much stranger, not this humble servant
Nipping flowers in the fields of the word.

He would like to think he's amusing,
At bottom, he believes he's lovely.
Kiss me, I'm metamorphic. Haw haw.

Alright then, here we are, the verses
Of flesh vs. mind. The synaptic
Curses the syntactic. Story time!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Salmon Song

Gods and little fishes live,
Like tortoises and parrots,
Until some ill befalls them.
So oceanic sages say.

They do not live as we do,
Dying all the way. The stream
Of birth and rebirth fails us
Or we climb it our own way,

Another successful means
To keep hunger hungrier.
I have an appointment, sharp
At the end with a bear. Please.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Nothing Must Be Repeated

Nothing must be repeated.
It is not happening now,
Never is, but it was once,
Though never that way again,
By which method it repeats.
No one is in the room now,
Except you, and when you go

You will be the no one then,
Although, of course you will not,
Cannot ever go, except
Back into you where nothing
Happening now can happen,
Nothing can happen at all,
At will, which bears repeating.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Clouds Gathering over Mt. Mandarin

Here in my dilapidated kiln
Housed inside the former butcher shop
Of sunny suburbia, I tread

Out the teetering wheel of my days.
Silver Elvis of Jesus painters
Wanders in from eternal teaching

Classes next door, cheerful as all hell
That he will be conducting a tour
Of Italian museums next fall.

Someone in the cinderblock distance
Can be heard, muttering, "He should spend
Time at home with his family instead."

I smile at him, nonetheless, although
Looking up from the soiled task at hand
Causes my grip to slip on the clay,

Which spins out of control, tilts the wheel,
And sends my livelihood down the hill
To salute penurious potters

Bemoaning their slavery to craft
In this artisanal world, or else
To repurpose whizzing commonweals.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

After the Before

What was that peculiar expression
The sun had to say to the water?
"All the work that went into looking
After the gods"? The plaintive joy

Of being free from joy without
Complaining pervades my living days,
And I am on the lookout from the wall
For every happy moment that steals

Through the tangled woods that gather
In a long wave of helpers and pests
Trying to escape the necessary forest.
The Pine Barrens, my canoe

On a lake no more than a cranberry
Bog, the Barrens, birthplace
Of my grown soul, of my epiphanic
Loss of faith in faith, in turtles

All the way, each god greater
Than the other, trick of the brain,
That what is larger and more remote,
Say mountains viewed from wetlands,

Must grow simpler as it grows greater
And hazier with unreproachable
Unapproachability, the old answer
To complexity thus resolved

By an ever-receding story, never
Granting that complexity grew worse
As the distance grew greater, until,
Like Alps or Rockies imagined

From a quiet flatness in the pines,
The gods became both invisible
And plausible explanations for all these
Blooming, buzzing confusions, these Barrens

Are dying. The great storms from the sea,
The people pouring out of the towns,
Are nothings compared to the infrequency
Of bitter-cold winter nights anymore,

The occasional clarity that protected the trees
From hungry hunger beetles boring
Under their skins. My Barrens rust,
Darken, die from life. So it was real.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

After You

The Deluge continues.
From Kish to the Sun King,
The lords counted backward,
The commoners forward.
Now, forward is science
Fiction for commoners,

Backward an ironic
Harvard joke by Prince Charles,
England's endlessly heir
Apparent, visiting
The former colonies,
Chortling, dryly, "I am

An anachronism."
Indeed you are, sir. But
Every earthbound strongman
Dreams of divinity,
The Mandate of Heaven,
A new religion, heirs

Galore, out the Yin-Yang
To infinity, yes!
Biology eats us
Alive and always has,
Atra-hasis, no dove
Can gainsay the hunger

That led the way to doves
And dusty death between
This flood, that flood, your flood,
God's blood, dismal sorrow,
And giddy happiness.
The Deluge continues,

Kings have not been restored
To divine genetics
Commoners' grandchildren
Will likely bow before.
Be content. After us,
No wolves or lions rule.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Addictions and Kitsch

When there is no story,
To tell it is long. When there is
A story to tell, it is short.

One evening, Sarah summed
A great disappointment,
Her first pilgrimage to a monastery,

By mentioning how the rest
Room in the gift shop stank,
The shop itself was packed

With pricey tchotchkes, and the monk
Who had just made that big stink,
Hanging outside the door, smoking a cig,

Only wanted to know what she wanted.
"All my ideals gone up in smoke,
But that's humanity, monks too:

Shit, addictions, and kitsch."

Sunday, February 16, 2014


"Many of the mediolana are places that a traveller might well describe as 'the middle of nowhere.'"

Light from the south as much as the west strokes
The narrow cedars like fingers, a mile
From the mouth of the known national park

That, in the United States, was once called
Zion. Next to the cedars, a prison,
One-celled, windowed, cemented from sandstone

Blocks, blocks the the high road of understanding.
A little water trickles from a spring.
One can, falsely, imagine young voices,

But who alive today could understand
Why the world's greatest secular empire
To that point in time named this spot "Zion"?
Connect all the world's possible Zions,
One draws a perfectly random scatter,
And who accepts randomness lovingly?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Seven Parts Human and Three Parts Ghoul

The old man of the mountain
Is never at a loss for words.
Who knows why? He's at a loss

For everything else. He should be
Ashamed, but the damned fool
Doesn't know the meaning of cliche

And doesn't give a fig for proverbs
Old as his mountain, nor for the latest,
Faddish hipster slang. He just talks.

He just talks and talks and never
Tells a story that isn't more like
A riddle that rounds the mountain

Like a tar ribbon of road, an iron
Ribbon of abandoned rail track,
Into tunnels, never to be seen again.

I have to admit, some mornings,
When the world sleeps, I hike
Up the slope just to listen to him

Finding him among tilted, fallen gravestones,
Mumbling, contented, in a fog,
The mists of dead souls still clinging to him.

Friday, February 14, 2014

February Carving

"The he and she celebrate the embrace of light and stone. / Light will fall from them, as from ourselves"

Nothing defies artistry
Like the deification
Of desire as stunning love.
No tradition, no genre,
No compounded metaphor
Can stabilize that sculpture.
Museums scavenge odd parts,

Sublime, embracing torsos,
Astonishing eyes aloft,
Even the singular hand
Gesturing exquisitely,
The figurine, small, grotesque,
A butterfly on a peg
Backlit against blue satin,

Both moving and disturbing
The peace of the casual
Visitor, like all lovers
And all loves disturb the peace.
One thing that I will predict:
It will be a trick to find
Bits of me that aren't you, too.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Translate Everything, Even Puns

"If you do a job that you're passionate about, it's better than eating nuts." -Sarah


A gift (metaphorically, of course,
As only humans really give gifts
And only humans really get them)

From existence to awareness
Is the awareness of holes
In the passage of awareness

Even the occasional lapse
Of memory, whatever the cause,
Deep sleep, surgery, lost weekend

Amnesia of any kind surrounded
By awareness of the amnesia
Is a solid reminder of being

More than being, oh lovely
To have knowledge of being
Nothing fore and aft if not during


Sukha pulls the last leaves
Off the littlest tree in the garden
Makes a bouquet of the leaves

Then hides behind the biggest pine
And is so quiet I think she's gone
Into the house, until she sings out

"You can't see me! I'm invisible!"
And I have to agree with her
Although I don't agree I'm invisible

Too, much to her dismay
As she looks right at me and asks
Again, "Papa are you invisible?"


Well, how well the short day goes
The sun low down in the mouth
Of the canyon, open wide

And you'd think you could swallow
It whole, little you, while Sarah
Goes out for an afternoon run

And comes back to say she found
A wedge of the tie-dyed Morrison
That wasn't supposed to be here

And rolled like a cat in delight
On the bare, sun-carpeted ground
Since, yes, the good comes around

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Keep your little animal, you,
On the friendliest possible

Terms with the rest of your
Capacious world, not because

Your little animal, you, is
Special, but because your little

Animal is not (and, probably,
Likes getting any help you've got).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


There's no escape from the panopticon
Of words' mercurial contradictions
Because language lacks the capacity
To be true without self contradiction,
Just as logic lacks the capacity
To be axiomatically complete.
You are a fragmentary phantasm
One brain generates without knowing why,
And you are the basin for all being,

Nothing outside of you, nothing but you:
Nothing is not you, the nothing that is,
The collection of accidents that sits
Down to breakfast, the breakfast, the kitchen,
The sun coming up, the plane going down,
The whiskey in the co-pilot's bloodstream,
The last dream of the fighter-jet pilot
Long left to doze through dull commercial routes,
The passengers dreaming lives they won't have,

The terrified dog whining at your feet,
Unable to quit trembling, unable
Not to worry you'll forget to drop scraps,
The radio, reporting on miners
In Ghana who risk their lives to pan gold,
Exposing themselves to spilled mercury
Trying to purify a few nuggets,
When their lives could be spared by a retort,
Which is some thing that captures mercury.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Ballad of Ziusudra and Shiduri

The Babylonians believed
We are the robots of the gods,
An expediency against
Labor unrest among lesser
Deities doing the hard work
Of making Earth palatable
For divinity until then.
So it was, and so shall be done.

"We survive," Ziusudra said
To his patient wife, Shiduri
(Not possessed, like him, of promise,
Explicit and binding, for life
Immortal, irrevocable
From the chastened, remaining gods),
Surviving only if he lived,
Insulted, but equivalent,

"Both because we did as they said,
And because we wholly tricked them.
We will never trick them again."
Thus, when a mortal king arrived,
Handsome, Shiduri took pity
On him, just to see him, too, fooled
By a snake. After that, she vowed,
"I live to make my own robots."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Bad Last Ruler

"Death makes me hungry," he said,
Most inappropriately
For a stranger at a wake,
But, it should be said, he did
Appear alarmingly lean,
His cheekbones alone could vouch.
We all wanted him fed, soon,

But no one knew what to say.
The widow herself was wise
Enough to know that saying
And hearing were meat and drink
To one in a state like his,
Which was what his comment meant.
She regaled him with stories

Of the deceased, her husband,
In which, always, her husband
Seemed a bit more heroic
Than he ever had in life,
But entertainingly so,
Not implausibly. At last,
The famished, gaunt-cheeked guest left.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Friendliness Between the Objects

Here is your flesh, a thought.
Here are your possessions, thoughts.

Here is your you, an inherited thought much modified
But not as much as you might think, a thought.

Here are various objects and bodies arising,
Moving about your thoughts about flesh

And possession, about your you
And your inheritance, all of them

Also thoughts. Long ago, you started
With a metaphor of you as a theater

For thoughts. Here you are thinking
Eleven hundred turns around the invisible

Untouchable thought that this is the axis
Of all your thoughts about this world

Later. Another thought, then, for another turn,
For the turn of a year, unspooled

Like an archaic technology that was cool
Before you were so many thoughts

About you: introduce your thoughts of objects
To each other as equals, let them be friends,

Equals at the round table of you
In their quest for the grail, all

Questing within the grail, even the cup
Itself questing, skull cap to another thought,

Another night, another equal,
No more significant than that plastic

Thought of a cup on a desk
Shining in late last November's

Pre-thanksgiving light of trembling.
Equal love radiating, touching

And reflecting in all, returning
From all directions comes, beatitude.

Friday, February 7, 2014

b.- d.

The dash is vast. It contains multitudes.
What if awareness, the little drifter, little stray
Gazzaniga et alia chase around our brains,

Actually is not that tiny confabulator, the interpreter,
But only the grail, only the cup-holder of all confabulation?
When it seems to go away, it does not go away.
It lets go. And when it lets go of everything, even the multitudes,
Even that sweet little vagary that it has so loved, left pale and alone,

It sleeps. How long does not matter,
Literally, does not matter, is immaterial. It becomes

In the holy, truest sense,
That not which does not exist, that naught
So that anything ever exists at all.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


"The Celtic deity of eloquence. He looked like an older version of Herakles. He was also a binding god who would use his powers of persuasion to bind men onto himself and then lead them into the underworld."

I will continue in the same direction
Until I disappear forever. The sun,
Any idiot iron-age ploughman knows,
Runs back along the same rungs, year-after-year
Like a post-chained dog who's forgotten the wolves
That followed the Ice-Age, African hunters
And their foul butchery of Neanderthals.
Nasty stuff, culture. Have you seen the color
Of water lying in pools on a glacier?
Dry skies have never been so blue as that wet,
And the most becalmed ocean looks black by it.

The reason (Reason! Pornographer of God!)
Is that there is so little life in that blue,
Compared to the seething madness of the seas.
The quiet mind, like tardigrade-infested
Himalayan pools of weird waters, colder
To mammalian touch than ordinary ice,
Is not, among us, is not, among any
Of us, free of culture's slow-swimming sea lice.
But the clarity gained by microscopy
Can't compare to the clarity gained by verse
(So much worse!). The sun is a spotted, wild dog.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Mountains Beyond Language

Are white this winter morning,
With a great, red-rock desert
Between me and their silence.
I'll never cross that desert,
Never visit those mountains,
Until whatever is me
Finally leaves me alone.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"I Think You Should Just Write a Bad Poem"

Poets who belong to such an ancient time
No one understands their speech, certainly not
Other poets raised on modern languages
And convinced true conservatism consists
Of hexameters, sonnets, and madrigals,
Have no one to talk to or blame but themselves,
Even granted their selves don't belong to them.
Box it and wrap it up with a bow: you write
What you can't read, compose notes you can't finger,
Dream of an audience you can't dream. Deep, deep
Sleep is where you'll find the beasts who understand.

Monday, February 3, 2014


The trees, I believe, no better than these
Grassland apes afraid of their own shadows,

Have had their vertically-challenged revenge.
All around them, stones rose to defy woods,

But trees borrowed mutualist fungi
Older than most known rocks, and defied back.

Now, the little mammals, wobbling big heads
Balanced on china-plate necks, expunge these

Ghosts by exploding apart rock cliff walls
Tree roots took centuries to render weak.

The oaks, firs, and cedars will forgive them
Depredations of the carpet of life

For finally exacting life's vengeance
On a stony universe that felt free

To burn whatever dared, however green,
However blue, to desire life, like trees.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

House of Dust

I would be only too happy
To believe, looking westward,
Looking upward, looking downward,
That I was pointing my gaze

In the direction of the land
Of the dead. Nothing more
Romantic than a locatable
Turf for all gone humans exists.

The prelapsarian gardens,
Golden ages, and islands
Of blissful savagery tempt me
Less than any underworld

However dour. Even Hell,
In its worst monotheistic
Incarnations, has a certain
Panache no Eden garners

With me. It's not immortality.
Who wants to hang around
Forever, haunting or hungry
Or both, or even lotos-sated

And addle-pated? It's the visit,
The dream of every epic, real
Awe and horrifying magic, the dead
Arrayed however belief demands

Of the poet, but gathered,
Gathering, somewhere, some real
Where, beyond any real visit
That tempts me. Let me go.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

All That No-Time

No-Tom Road comes to mind.
One of the many times
I thought myself patient,
A life-long confusion
Of noun for adjective,
Of being a patient

Versus being patient.
Or any of those nights
By your crib, in a chair,
On the floor, in the dark,
As if dawn couldn't come
Fast enough or at all.

Or any long morning
Short on activities,
Or any car-seat wait
For your mother's return
From a store. As if I
Had better things to do

Than simply be with you,
The one child of my life,
My sky-eyed magic show,
Endlessly surprising,
Decades in arriving,
The one I waited for.